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The Metamorphosis | Study Guide

Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis | Part 3 (Epilogue) | Summary



The next morning, the charwoman shouts out to the sleeping parents and sister, "Come and 'ave a look at this, it's dead, just lying there, stone dead!" His family comes together to observe Gregor's body, and the boarders awaken to demand breakfast. Mr. Samsa tells them to leave at once. The Samsas then decide to take a day off from work, realizing that "not only had they earned a break from work but they were in serious need of it." They catch a tram (rail transportation intended to carry groups of people short distances) to the country for fresh air and sunshine. Making plans to move to a less expensive flat, the family recognizes what good fortune it is that all three of them have good jobs. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa also realize that Grete, who is "blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady," will likely soon marry.


After Gregor's death, the omniscient narrator's perspective shifts from Gregor to the trio of Mr. Samsa, Mrs. Samsa, and Grete (now for the first time referred to as a daughter rather than a sister). Grete's apparent inability to sleep the night of Gregor's death suggests she feels remorse for her words the evening before. However, when Grete sees her brother lying dead on the floor, she and her family make no move to tend to Gregor's corpse. At this point the narrator mentions the time of year—the end of March—and says the "fresh air" coming through the window in Gregor's room "had something of warmth mixed in with it." Spring has arrived, symbolizing the Samsa family's hope for a better future and readiness to move on. A bit later, when the charwoman unceremoniously reports that the "thing" has been disposed of ("That's all been sorted out"), the family barely acknowledges the fact.

A bittersweet sense of relief falls over Mr. and Mrs. Samsa and Grete, who now only have to care for themselves. In fact, Mr. Samsa forcefully ejects the boarders, who now uncannily resemble unwanted vermin—they rub their hands together (like houseflies) then, with their six legs, "hop," "jump," or "scuttle" (depending on the translation) out of the apartment.

As the story ends the Samsa family, for the first time, seems happy. They do what Gregor was never able to do: take a day off to relax and unwind. Grete's cheeks turn from pale to lively, and they relish the good fortune of their jobs, "which were very good and held particularly good promise for the future." This optimism seems unwarranted—the aging parents work at low-level jobs—suggesting that the hope associated with spring is as flawed as Gregor's devotion to his family. The family's eagerness to downsize the flat that Gregor worked so hard to maintain (and which he had picked out himself) is one of the novella's many ironies.

Just as Gregor changed from a traveling salesman to an insect, so, too, his family has changed. His father no longer relies on his son to provide for his family; his mother is far more at peace; and Grete, no longer the idle, young girl, is now a responsible woman who will soon set off on a life of her own.

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